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MosNews: Russian Prosecutors Find 100 Law Violations at Sakhalin-2

Created: 07.12.2006 12:29 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 12:29 MSK

At least 100 violations of the environmental, migration and labor laws have been discovered in the Sakhalin-2 energy project in Russia’s Far East, local prosecutors said on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, which is run by international oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell, has been under scrutiny since Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry canceled its own 2003 approval of the project in mid-September.

“It has been established that builders of the gas pipeline in six districts of the Sakhalin Region have caused serious damage to rivers where Pacific salmon spawn,” the prosecutors said, quoted by RIA Novosti.

Added to illegal tree felling, these account for tens of million of rubles of damage to the environment, the source said, noting that a criminal case had been opened and more criminal proceedings might follow.

The Federal Agency for Water Resources said it had suspended 12 water resources licenses to for Sakhalin-2 for violating Russia’s Water Code. “We give them two months to correct the uncovered violations, otherwise the licenses will be annulled,” the agency said.

The Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources has said it will present a final report on the Sakhalin-2 project by mid-December, and added that its expert group identified a number of serious violations, some of which fall under the provisions of Russia’s Criminal Code.

The Natural Resources Ministry said earlier it was dissatisfied with the environmental measures taken so far by Sakhalin Energy, the project operator.

The multibillion-dollar project has been accused of inflicting large-scale ecological damage on Sakhalin Island, including deforestation, toxic waste dumping and soil erosion. Checks have also uncovered the illegal routing of an oil pipeline through the territory of a national conservation area and environmental damage to the island’s Aniva Bay.

The Russian government and the Sakhalin administration signed a production-sharing agreement on Sakhalin-2 in 1994.

Royal Dutch/Shell holds 55 percent in Sakhalin Energy, while Japan’s Mitsui controls 25 percent, and Mitsubishi 20 percent.

Sakhalin-2 comprises an oil field with associated gas, a natural gas field with associated condensate production, a pipeline, a liquefied natural gas plant and an LNG export terminal. The two fields have estimated reserves of 150 million metric tons (1.1 billion barrels) of oil and 500 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

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